With so much loss throughout the pandemic, it could be helpful to prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday by focusing on gratitude. The Media Center recommends these studies for small groups.
We also have several resources to help your church plan a program or activities around the Thanksgiving holiday for adults, youth, and children.
Does your church talk about gratitude as part of your stewardship program? We recommend a few resources to add this theme as a focus.
Small Group Studies
Simple and Free: Staging Your Own Experiment Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. Explore patterns and solutions around sustainability and gratitude in this study that fights back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence. Discover a greatly increased connection with God–a call toward simplicity and generosity that transcends social experiment to become a radically better life. This is a book study that uses a study guide and a guided journal.
Hebrews: Grace and Gratitude by David A. DeSilva. See the connection between God’s grace in our lives and the gratitude we can express for our salvation when we answer the call to invest ourselves in God’s mission in the world. Discover a bold perspective on the meaning and significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection in light of the Old Testament, allowing us to hear afresh God’s call to a life of faithfulness. This DVD study uses a leader guide and book.
Happy? What It Is and How to Find It by Matt Miofsky. Discover that contentment isn’t dependent on the “things” of life. Instead, you’ll see that happiness can be found in the value of our relationships, a forgiving lifestyle, living in the present, feeling gratitude, and learning to release control. This DVD study uses a leader guide and book.
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp. Embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God’s gifts. It’s only in this expressing of gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we’ve always wanted … a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others. This DVD study uses a study guide and a book.
Spirituality of Gratitude: The Unexpected Blessings of Thankfulness by Joshua Choonmin Kang. God invites us to enter into a world of thankfulness at every moment in our lives, even in the hard times—perhaps especially then. Pastor Kang writes, “Gratitude heals us and holds us, tethering us to one another, offering us joy and strength.” This book has fifty-two short chapters that can be read in weekly sabbath reflection or daily devotional use.
The First Thanksgiving: How the Pilgrims Became Missionaries, In Their Own Words by Stephen Skelton. It is often said that the Pilgrims came to America for religious freedom, but that is not what the Pilgrims said. According to their governor, William Bradford: “They cherished a great hope…of laying good foundations…for the propagation and advance of the Gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world….” This is the story of how the Pilgrims became missionaries. This booklet can be reproduced for everyone in your group.
Church Programs for All Ages
Growing Together: Six Intergenerational Celebrations, Fall and Winter. In this volume of Growing Together, you’ll find leaders’ resources, planning pages, and a wealth of experiential learning activities. It includes several intergenerational activities to use during Thanksgiving.
Ready to Go: School’s Out: Youth Ministry Ideas for School Breaks and Summer Vacations. Find support and practical ideas that can help you minister to teens during the “down times.” It includes learning activities, outings, games, worship services, and suggestions for the busy youth worker. You will find four activities to use with youth over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Veggie Tales: Thankfulness: Sunday School Lessons. Your kids will enjoy four Sunday school lessons with Madame Blueberry, the very blue berry who wants more stuff! They’ll learn alongside Madame Blueberry that “being greedy makes you grumpy…but a thankful heart is a happy heart!” Includes a teacher guide to lead you through each lesson, a DVD with the video clips, and a CD-ROM with the coloring pages you’ll need. For ages 3-8. Also, the Veggie Connections DVD includes Veggie Tales clips related to Thanksgiving.
Big Book of Holiday and Bible Celebrations: 30 Ready-to-Use Bible Lessons for Ages 6 to 12. This book provides children’s ministry leaders and teachers with 30 ready-to-use lessons that can be used throughout the year. Each lesson provides holiday information for the teacher, a Bible story, object talk, art activity, game, and coloring page. The book includes five biblical activities to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Celebrate Christmas: Easy Dramas, Speeches and Recitations. Celebrate Christmas begins with three poems for Thanksgiving that can be said by one or more young children followed by six poems for Christmas.
Come Follow Me! A Worship Program for Teaching the Gospel to Children. This book includes a Thanksgiving celebration with children ages 4-12. The lesson includes scripture, a meditation, and workstations where the children will read the instructions and help with the recipes and crafts.
The Generosity Challenge: 28 Days of Gratitude, Prayer, and Faith by Scott McKenzie and Kristine Miller. This four-week group study will appeal to those who are in the pews every Sunday, but who have not yet committed to monetary giving. The study offers a weekly reading accompanied by seven days of challenges in the forms of self-assessment, journaling, and prayer. After 28 days, members of the group study are encouraged to embrace a life-giving journey toward generosity and provided a road map on how to get there. This DVD study uses a book.
The Gratitude Path: Leading Your Church to Generosity by Kent Millard. This book offers the Gratitude Campaign—a Christ-centered approach that promotes spiritual health for both donors and the church. This biblically-based, no-nonsense resource will enable you to help people count their blessings and give to God out of gratitude. The five-session study includes discussion questions, samples, and a step-by-step outline for conducting a Gratitude Campaign in a church of any size or denomination.
Find more DVDs, studies, and books in the Thanksgiving and Gratitude Resources pathfinder.
Request These Resources
These resources can be borrowed for free by anyone involved with a United Methodist Church in the North Carolina Conference. We will mail them to your home! All you need to do is fill out the Resource Request Form.